USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) are both currently docked at Naval Air Station North Island, which sits right across the bay from downtown San Diego. While it is not rare to see two, or even three, supercarriers in port at North Island, what is rare is seeing two of these massive warships sitting side-by-side with their entire air wings embarked. The terrestrial photos come to us courtesy of our friends @Warshipcam and @CJR1321.
Most of the time, during training, aircraft will fly out to the carriers in smaller groups and then fly back to land once the training is completed, but when the carriers spin up prior to deployment, the entire air wing will be embarked aboard the vessel for an extended period of time. This is necessary to complete advanced integrated training not only with the air wing, which has member squadrons scattered across the country, but also for the entire carrier strike group, including the carrier’s numerous escorts. It is getting all the pieces to work as a single team that gives the American carrier strike group capabilities that are far more than the sum of their individual parts. This advanced integrated training includes more extreme threat scenarios that aim to tax the strike group’s abilities and prepare them for what may come as they sail into unfriendly waters on deployment.
The USS Abraham Lincoln also totes an F-35C squadron, but in its case, it is a Marine unit (VMFA-314, the Black Knights). The carrier returned home from a grueling deployment in the winter of 2020 before going through an extensive maintenance period at North Island. It appears to be preparing for another deployment which could occur very soon, or at least it will be available to do so.
There have been some highly interesting movements of American airpower in the Pacific as of late, as well as some puzzling strategic signaling with America’s undersea arsenal. This may be part of that, but it would come as a byproduct of the reality that two Pacific-based carriers could deploy immanently, at least if need be. It’s also worth noting that there is no American carrier strike group operating in the entire Indo-Pacific theater at this time, either, although that could and probably will change very soon. The HMS Queen Elizabethis in the region and the majority of the F-35Bs aboard are from the USMC and she has a U.S. escort, as well. One could speculate that the Carl Vinson or Lincoln will operate side by side in the Pacific with the British flagship as part of her inaugural deployment.
So there you have it, two supercarriers loaded up with their own air forces parked next to each other in San Diego an impressive and rare display of America’s naval might.
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